How Discipline Builds Confidence in Race Training

Shelby runs the desert as part of the 2018 Speed Project. Photo: Justin Knight

Shelby runs the desert as part of the 2018 Speed Project. Photo: Justin Knight

by Shelby Hall

I recently finished reading “The Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale and this book has enlightened my thoughts on the effects of confidence on many aspects of my life. One quote from the book, in particular, has been on my mind as my first marathon rapidly approaches:

“With sound self-confidence, you can succeed. A sense of inferiority and inadequacy interferes with the attainment of your hopes, but self-confidence leads to self-realization and successful achievement.”

This statement continually speaks to me on my training journey, because it is exactly why I am so disciplined when running. Discipline drives my confidence in reaching the finish line, it pushes me to improve my finish time and it motivates me to make sure I’m healthy enough to get a perfect cheer squad picture.

For those unfamiliar with a cheer squad, on race day, it is one of the many things that keeps me going. They are my support crew, cheering loudly, ringing cowbells and popping confetti as my fellow runners and I fly by. Even in times when I was hurting badly in past races, my pride and the love from my friends made me pull it together when approaching the cheer squad (and the cameras!).

Shelby running through the District Running Collective Cheer Squad at the 2017 Brooklyn Half Marathon. Photo:  District Running Collective

Shelby running through the District Running Collective Cheer Squad at the 2017 Brooklyn Half Marathon. Photo: District Running Collective

This weekend, I will complete my very first marathon at the TCS New York City Marathon and it means so much to me. Not a half marathon, but 26.2 miles to the finish line. This is actually something I said I’d never do, but here we are. It’s exciting but it also feels like the pressure is on.

Discipline in Race Training

Discipline has played a key role in my training. In order to ignite my inner confidence and achieve my race goal, I need to feel prepared. With Plantar Fasciitis and issues with eczema troubling me, plus the relentless humidity we had in D.C. this summer, my mental state during training has been continuously challenged.

In the past, having to slow down and give my body a break has brought on a sense of guilt or a feeling that I was “cheating myself” and those training with me. It’s great to have a training plan and obsess over the details, however, I now know that there is a fine line between pushing myself to be a better runner and pushing too hard when my body is hurt and needs a break.

Even when you’re trying to be disciplined, it’s important to give yourself some reasonable flexibility in your training. There have been some days when I have had horrible dehydration and pain and others when running 15 miles felt great and left me excited about the next run. Either way, discipline helps me press on.

In the past weeks, I’ve tested out new shoes, carried cold/wet wipes on runs for my eczema and even wore my hydration pack for as little as a five-mile run, because that’s what my body called for. (Runners wear hydration packs for 10+ mile runs, so I kind of felt ridiculous having it with so little miles to run.)

In the end, it’s about doing what it takes to stay healthy and on track, having fun and how badly I really want it--and I want it badly.

Photo: Sunchase Media for RUNGRL

Photo: Sunchase Media for RUNGRL

Here are a few of the tips I’ve used to stay disciplined while training for the TCS New York City Marathon.

5 Tips to Stay Disciplined While Race Training

  1. Get an accountability partner to keep you on track mentally and physically.

  2. Take one week at a time. Don’t stress about the coming weeks of your training plan, take it week by week.

  3. Don’t neglect your personal life. It’s okay to squeeze in time for your friends and get all the laughs because this is the ultimate relaxation.

  4. Treat every long run like race day during your training. Ensure that you’re hydrating, eating breakfast and carrying all the run pick-me-ups such as energy blocks, gels, etc. to keep you going.

  5. Make sure to indulge in recovery in fun ways, like a spa day with the girls.

Wish me luck!

Shelby Headshot_RUNGRL.JPG

Shelby Hall is an alumna of both Howard University and Duke Business School, works in the Global Corporate Strategy division at Under Armour and is a District Running Collective captain. She has been an athlete her entire life, but has been running for over ten years and has competed in races for the past two years.

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